Weight-loss: are you tracking the right numbers?

Working on losing weight? How do you know whether you are you tracking the right numbers to assess your progress? Rely on the wrong ones and you may never get there!
When people come to me for weight-loss, I make sure that they are crystal clear on what they are looking to achieve and why they want this weight-loss. That’s the very first step that will define how well we are going to succeed. Everyone is different and no weight-loss is the same, that’s why this is so essential to help me design the perfect programme for you.

First we are agree on a SMART goal, which means a goal that is specific (e.g. lose weight or fat, increase muscle mass), measurable (e.g. how much you want to lose so that you can track it objectively), achievable (e.g. is this goal within the healthy BMI range and does it take into account all your circumstances), relevant (e.g. is this goal going to help you achieve the ultimate goal - often improving your health), and time-based (e.g. when would you like to have achieved this, because of a deadline or this is an ongoing project). This way we can track how well we are doing to reach your goal, and how best to update your programme.

Although a SMART goal is an essential starting point, it is important not to stay fixated on just this number - the number of the bathroom scale – simply because this number may no longer reflect the new you: it may be how you felt at your best as a young adult, or it’s your pre-baby weight, or even a health professional told you so.
In my experience, having a goal is essential, but a weight goal should just be a guideline, and here is why:

1. A number on a scale doesn’t necessarily correlate with how you want to look like. Often, we have this idea of how we’d look amazing at that number, only to realise that we actually don’t look the same when we get there. That’s because we didn’t consider our body composition: muscles are denser than fat. Weight-loss is not just about food, we need to move, build muscles and lose fat to look the best we can. Also when you start exercising, your body shape changes dramatically and even if you are weighing the same, you may look totally different – check Instagram profiles for better visual effect.
2. If your weight doesn’t change despite consistent healthy eating and workouts, then you may start losing motivation. I totally understand the frustration, but are you tracking all the numbers to assess if nothing truly changes? If you do the following you may actually realise a lot is happening: track body measurements with a tape measure such as your chest, waist, hips, thighs and biceps - where are the number going, down? It could also be a good idea to invest in an electronic body composition scale (there are affordable, and readily available on Amazon) or get a reading at your gym, most of them offer this reading for free. If you do everything right, I can assure you that you will see changes all the other numbers, that’s why you have to track everything from day one.
3. Your weight goal may not be your body’s ideal weight. I’ve seen it many times: clients on a healthy and nutritious diet, with the right amount of sleep and exercise for them, stress under control, end up at a totally different weight than originally anticipated. It can be higher, but lower. What they realise is that they feel extremely good in their body and the number on the scale doesn’t really matter anymore. Their body is functioning optimally, they feel more confident than ever, so everything else become irrelevant.
So be savvy with your weight-loss, trust the process and look at the bigger picture. That’s why it is extremely important to keep in mind why you are doing this. This very reason might be the difference between you reaching your goal and staying there, and you still trying to reach it year after year. Of course, how you get there is important, but most diets are successful at helping you lose weight, it’s the underlying cause of the weight gain that needs to be sorted before anything to be achieved in the long term.
Let’s do this!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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